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The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Nominees Night celebration returned Monday after two years off, with a star-studded party taking over the outdoor pavilion at Spago Beverly Hills.
The event drew Oscar nominees Kristen Stewart (Spencer), Ariana DeBose (West Side Story), Denis Villeneuve (Dune), Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Power of the Dog), Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson (Summer of Soul), Sian Heder (CODA), Ciarán Hinds (Belfast), Chris Miller and Phil Lord (The Mitchells vs the Machines), costume designer Paul Tazewell (West Side Story) and Diane Warren (Four Good Days), among others. (Check out more photos here.)
Nominees Night, which was presented by IHG Hotels & Resorts and sponsored by Heineken and Amazon Ads, coincides with the Academy’s annual Oscar nominees luncheon, which took place earlier Monday and brought some of the honorees together for the first time during this year’s condensed awards season.
Stewart told THR on the red carpet that she had spent most of the luncheon “basically being his agent,” pointing to Spencer director Pablo Larraín. “I’m going to connect Pablo and Guillermo del Toro — he really wanted to talk to him,” she joked. “I was like, ‘He would love to hear this, let me get you two in touch.’ My head was spinning today.”
Questlove also recounted a memorable day: “My mom’s going to be so jealous of me that I had all of this Denzel time,” he said of his convos with fellow nominee Denzel Washington. “He let me know his hip-hop pedigree, which was awesome.” It seems Washington had a busy lunch, as DeBose also shared a special moment with the star.
“He really walked up to me and hugged me and I was like, ‘Number one, you understand who I am?'” said DeBose. “This feels awkward and backward. And he hugged me, kissed me on the forehead and said, ‘I remember when I was the only Black person in this room, and today I’m not alone.’ That was really special.” Once inside, DeBose gave a hug to THR editorial director Nekesa Mumbi Moody.
Once off the carpet, Stewart quickly shed her heels and switched into sneakers, heading to a table with Larraín and their team, along with her fiancée, Dylan Meyer. The Spencer table also mingled with Taika Waititi, who donned a backward hat and drink in hand one night after wins at the Independent Spirit Awards.
Elsewhere inside the party, frequent nominee Warren chatted with Smit-McPhee (who said his Power of the Dog run “has been the gift that keeps on giving”), and Villeneuve and Heder were among those mingling by the bar. DeBose caught up with Tick, Tick… Boom! producer Julie Oh, Questlove posed for photos with Heidi Klum, and Drive My Car producer Teruhisa Yamamoto fanned out (via his translator) over Miller and Lord for their past work on Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
Among the executives in attendance were CAA’s Bryan Lourd, Sony Pictures co-president Michael Barker, Cinedigm Corp. chairman and CEO Chris McGurk, Neon CEO Tom Quinn, Sony Pictures Animation president Kristine Belson, TriStar Pictures president Nicole Brown, Encanto producer and Disney Animation president Clark Spencer, CODA producer and Picture Perfect chief Patrick Wachsberger, and THR co-publishers Victoria Gold and Beth Rabishaw.
The evening’s menu — curated by Wolfgang Puck’s team, as the celebrity chef also made an appearance — included a spread of hors d’oeuvres and Spago’s signature pizzas, tuna tartare in miso cones, sliders and hand-held bites. Dove Cameron, Chloe Bailey, Jack Dylan Grazer, Rita Ora and Wilmer Valderrama were among the additional guests.
The night marked less than three weeks until the big night on March 27, with Stewart saying she’s gotten a taste for at the award shows leading up to the Oscars.
“These rooms are full of people I want to be and be around,” she said on the carpet. “I have no expectations, I just know it’s going to be really nice to sit next to [Larraín] and watch it all go down.”
Added DeBose, “It really is just an honor to be there and take it in and be able to look people in the face and have that recognition. I’ve said a lot throughout the last month, it really is an honor to be seen. … I’m honored to be seen by this delegation, to be seen by this group of peers. It’s weird to think I am their peer, but I’m blessed to be a witness to the art we’re making right now and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
This event was held in compliance with local health and safety guidelines.
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